I wondered if anyone here has worked in States for a postdoc or other professional role and might have some general tips they could share. Tips when it comes to differences between the UK and the US culture in things like work relationships and interactions, style of supervision, expectations, etc etc in the workplace...
I am a graduate student at the states although I am not a postdoc and I am not from UK but I am from Europe, so I cannot help you in that matter, my experience has not been very positive here, but I know other students that are doing pretty good being foreigners as a graduate students or postdocs, it is very related to the PI. The supervision as well depends on the PI, the PhDs here some are very controlled (like me) and others are not supervised at all, same with postdocs. The expectations depends on the lab, there are labs that want to publish in Nature and others that do not care about it although they have a high level of work, I think that you should find some references if you are looking for a lab at the states, maybe this website can be helpful, https://www.labvisor.net/?lang=en, there are several references from US labs.
Personally, I like better the research in Europe and how people work there, in some way is very different because here, anyone can do a PhD and it does not matter the background because you have two years of classes and exams to provide that. I do not like how it is organized here and I think that research level and preparation of researchers is quite better in Europe (from my personal vision). However, here there are a lot of opportunities, and they value a lot a good worker and economically the situation is much better talking about grants, so if you are lucky with the lab I think that the experience can be very positive.
Hope this helps in some way!
Thanks MyWorld. I'm there at the mo actually, just for a year, then the plan is to find a longer postdoc either here or elsewhere. But it is just so vastly different here to my experience in the UK that I wondered if anyone had / could share their experiences. I guess I just have to be here and will slowly begin to adjust and realise what's similar, what's different, and how to navigate things. It's all good fun!
While I haven't worked in the US per se, I was postdoc for close to 3 years in Canada, mostly under the supervision of American professors. In a word, my experience there was underwhelming, and I would definitely not repeat the decision. The culture shock for myself, going from being a postdoc in central Europe to the Canadian-American system, could hardly have been larger. Back home I was on the verge of becoming a PI, having already supervised several Master's students of my own and being responsible for an entire lab. Once I stepped off the plane there and talked to my American professor for the first time, it became clear that I had regressed to being a research assistant. I was lumped in with the "grad students", who were not treated much different from the undergrads. Instead of an office I was given a seat in the shared undergrad/grad student lab. I had no say whatsoever in the topics I was going to work on, despite the fact that I was 100% self-funded through a funding agency in my home country. So I spent two years working on non-sensical, failing topics unrelated to by PhD or research interests, which were unilaterally assigned to me. In short, in the North American system you are not taken seriously until you have "a real job", i.e., a professorship of some sort. "Postdoc" over there is essentially synonymous with "loser", and one should not stay in this phase for more than a few months, maybe 1 year max. I could talk about this at great lengths, so just a few highlight experiences: 1) At one point, I - as a self-funded visiting postdoctoral researcher - was ASSIGNED to work in a project HEADED by one of the local UNDERGRADS. That guy spent his whole day playing World-of-Warcraft, while I was doing to the coding for him. 2) I was expected - among other things - to catsit and help paint the house for my "supervisor". Etc. etc.
Wow! Thanks for sharing your experience. I must say, it sounds a bit like you were unlucky! So far, I am much preferring it here in terms of the day to day running of things, and how people and intellect are respected, rather than just rank or position. Maybe I am just very lucky to be in a good lab. Good to hear a different perspective.
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